Two estranged chipmunks reunite to find an old friend.
Directed by Akiva Schaffer
Starring John Mulaney and Andy Samberg
Review by Jon Kissel
As movie studios become increasingly reliant on franchises and legacy properties, they’ve come to the semi-pathetic conclusion that if one franchise is working, why not smoosh several together? Warner Brothers has done this to commercial success with Ready Player One and Space Jam 2, though the former is Steven Spielberg’s worst movie by a wide margin and I’m never going to watch the latter. Monopolist behemoth Disney has dipped a toe in these waters with a subplot in Ralph Breaks the Internet, and dives all the way in with Chip N Dale: Rescue Rangers, a film that imagines all the Disney animated characters existing alongside live-action actors and going through the same struggles of auditions and fan convention merch tables. The best any of these mish-mashes can hope for is having talented people muddle their way through and salvage whatever laughs they can find, and that’s generally the case here. Roping in two thirds of the Lonely Island goes a long way towards tolerability for what is otherwise a stockholder presentation of a company’s vast asset portfolio.
Of all the things to get irritated about in the last three years, the release of Luca direct to Disney+ streaming is extremely low on the worthiness scale, but that Pixar release was some of their best, most atmospheric work and I watched it at home, as opposed to in a theater. It’s not a question of Covid either, as it was released in a post-Alpha, pre-Delta period where even Covid maximalists would’ve been fine going out to see it. Instead, as they have for four of their last five releases, Pixar and their corporate monopolist masters dumped Luca on streaming. I’m an old-school cinephile, and skipping theaters feels like disrespect. The same can be said for Prey, a film shot on location in Alberta with practical effects that contains all the cathartic, chest-thumping moments that characterize the action genre. A film that would’ve done great in theaters instead lands on Hulu, and the world gets a tiny bit smaller. Prey, the fifth and arguably best entry in the Predator franchise, deserves better than it got, but what’s to be expected from a company that is increasingly shunting work it acquired through Fox off to the side in favor of gray CGI sludge and in-house production.
It’s Robert Pattinson’s turn to put on the cowl and the cape in The Batman, Warner Brother’s latest crack at its foundational superhero. Befitting a franchise reboot, director and writer Matt Reeves takes Batman all the way back to his early days just like Christopher Nolan did with Batman Begins, though this is no origin story. Reeves has the difficult task of rebooting a story that most people on earth are familiar with by this point, of trying to find something new in a ubiquitous character. He reaches into a broader cinematic past and the dark anti-elite/anti-institution present for the right combination, and makes a film that, though universally regarded as too long at three hours, provides an introduction to the cast and the tone that’s going to carry the character through the next several years. Batman’s gone from being relatively grounded in Nolan’s trilogy to a cosmic character who fights next to or against Superman with Zach Snyder’s films. Reeves strips the character down to when it was most recently successful, and then strips it down some more for a gritty crime/serial killer drama that, if given its druthers, would jettison the part about a guy who goes out at night dressed like a bat.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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